Known for punk energy, righteous guitar solos and understated vocals, Dinosaur Jr. has inspired countless bands over the past three decades.
Last year, the trio released one of its most acclaimed albums, “Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not.” And the live shows are just as loud as ever.
“Super loud ... too loud,” drummer and founding member Emmett Jefferson Murphy III — aka Murph — said. “We can’t turn back. We even have kids say, 'Turn it up louder.' ”
Dinosaur Jr. will play its iconic brand of distorted rock at the Varsity Theatre on Friday. Easy Action opens the show. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Formed in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1984, the band produced a handful of classic albums before their much-chronicled infighting led to a split in the early ’90s. Bass player and vocalist Lou Barlow formed his own influential band, Sebadoh, and Murph would play on other projects. Guitarist and singer J Mascis continued to release albums under the Dinosaur Jr. name until 1997, then it seemed the band was done.
But the guys regrouped in 2005 and have steadily created memorable albums just as good as its back catalog. With each release, the band continues to earn new fans.
“It’s a lot of fun when you have someone new, and they’re really excited and they’re kind of experiencing it for the first time,” Murph said.
Last year’s album produced songs that easily fit into the Dinosaur Jr. canon along with “greatest hits” like “Freak Scene,” “Start Choppin’” or “Repulsion.”
“Goin’ Down,” the first track off the most recent album, is a favorite at live shows, Murph said. “Knocked Around,” which builds from a mellow drone to a frenzied finish, was a challenge to reproduce on stage. Live, the band plays off the energy of both the longtime, dedicated fans and the new devotees, he said.
“The same attitude goes into it that did when we were 22. We still have that — every show like it’s your last, give it your all. All three of us, we will probably never change that," he said.
Murph is often called the band’s “referee” or spokesman. He’s definitely the diplomat of the band. He answered a few questions from The Advocate about the band’s inner-workings and its future plans.
This second iteration of Dinosaur Jr. has been around for more than a decade. What’s different this time around?
We’re lucky. In the early days, we used to clash. Now, we are able to bring those things from different corners into the mix and make it whole, which is great.
A lot of times bands don’t do that, or you grow apart. That is why it’s important we all have our side pursuits and projects. After this Christmas, we’ll take a year off. Lou will probably think about another Sebadoh record, J will probably think about another solo record. I have a project in L.A. that I did last year, Dumb Numbers. That all helps to bring freshness back into it when we get back together and think about doing more touring or a new record.
Critics and fans both love the latest album. How did it come together?
We’re all becoming more seasoned. It’s like refining a craft. It’s like being a woodworker, and you get better at refining your craft. J’s becoming a better songwriter. On this record, he paid a lot of attention to vocals and lyrics. A lot of times, he will kind of skim over that. This record, he really put in a lot of time to that. It really shows.
It must be gratifying as a musician to create a band and a sound that stays fresh for so long.
I just feel lucky. That’s a big difference between music then and music now. I think a lot of people get together, a lot of kids, and they deliberately try to go for a sound. They want to be pop, or they want to sound like Nirvana. They really try to refine a sound. That’s cool, too, but when you try to be that deliberate with art you get into the whole pop art thing. To us, music is art. It’s sonic art. You put it out there and see what happens.
DINOSAUR JR./EASY ACTION
WHEN: Friday. Doors open at 8 p.m. The show starts at 9 p.m.
WHERE: Varsity Theatre, 3353 Highland Road, Baton Rouge
COST: $25 online, $30 at the door.